Tag Archives: bilingual

Do picture books help children learn another language?

This week we are really blessed to guest blog from the lovely Nathalie. We met on twitter and have a shared love for picture books and puppets. So over to Nathalie.Natalie 4

For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved books and been surrounded by them. When my children (now 12 and 15) were born and I decided to bring them up bilingual (English and French) I am convinced books played a major part in their success… thanks to my parents who always bought so many stories for them! I read to Leah and Max in French every day and they learnt naturally, without any lessons, to read French; Max read so much by himself he taught himself to write in French too. However I never actually thought of making it part of my business until I had so many children’s books that I started to wonder what I was going to do with them! Books in English and books for adults I never kept you see; I believe books are only alive if they are being read and shared and it was easy to give them away, but books in French… Well they were too heavy to take back to France and I didn’t know anyone in the UK who would appreciate them! My dream was to open a French library; then my best friend came up with the amazing idea of a mobile library!
Bibliobus

You can check out photos of the bus on my website: http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/
The books I travel around with on my Bibliobook are mostly picture books. Why, might you ask, should anyone want to pay me to go and tell a story to their children in French? If you attend any of Sarah’s classes I am sure you are not asking yourself this question as she is a fan of books (and puppets!) herself. We all accept that stories in their native language are good for our children and they are encouraged to be read to and to read from a very young age. Moreover research shows that sharing stories in a second language (even without being bilingual) helps to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills! (more about various research projects here http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/spip.php?article114) More than 2000 booksChildren still love books as real objects; they enjoy sitting on the carpet and listening to a story, even more so if they can act it out with props! This we do on le Bibliobook whilst surrounded by nearly 2000 French books!! It is great fun and we know our children will learn better and be more motivated when they have fun… Not just little ones either!

If you do not have access to authentic books in another language, please check out One Third Stories for virtual stories which start in English and end in another language. That’s another great fun way of learning with stories!
So if you get the chance to, please take your children to storytelling sessions (in any language!) and keep reading to them or with them (in any language you can too!). You and they will never wish you hadn’t done it!
Natalie writes weekly blogs about picture books that are great for language learning.

OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?

I’ve heard it said many times that one parent one language (OPOL) is the best if not only way of family language learning. It is often held up as the Holy Grail of bilingual families.
In our home OPOL was not possible, as my husband was not keen to do this. He’d only lived in England two years by then and felt consolidating his English was most important. I’m native English and had studied German to GCSE, so started to pass on what I knew when our son was small. Maik did help me work on my German, so me and my son were learning together. We found some French books in a local shop when he was a little over a year and we started to read those to him now and again.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?


It was all very ad hoc, and in the very early internet days we did not come across anyone doing the same. I just felt it was important so we shared German books together, recited days of the week in the car, sung along to nursery rhyme CDs, counted on the swings, played with toys which spoke German and watched German DVDs together as well as German satellite TV. My thinking was to give as much language exposure as possible which he could build on in school. Yearly visits to Germany provided a good chance for him to meet German speaking people and practice speaking. Food vocab was considered most important! We celebrated German festivals like Martinstag and Nikolaustag together. It was hard work and I was not sure how much difference it was making.
A few years later my girls were born and I met a few German speaking mums with similar age children. It was so encouraging to be able to speak to someone outside our family in German and talk with them about how they brought German into their family. We shared books, DVDs and CDs which was great. We also found out about a German Lutheran church about an hour away so we were able to join with them for Martinstag and Nikolaustag.Nikolaus Boots
My children are not fluent in German but can understand a lot and communicate in the country. My son can easily pick up native accents (and mimic regional accents too) and speaks better Dutch than his parents. I put this down to hearing and using a few languages from a young age. My six year old was astounded when I told her some families only speak English.

So back to the opening question, OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?
I think there is no best way of family language learning. Raising multilingual children is a flexible and very personal process, do what works for you and your family, make it part of your lifestyle. It needs to be something which works for you and your family in the long term.
Bilingualism is a massive asset to your children in the long term and as parents we are so fortunate to be able to give it to our children. Just do what works for you all and enjoy the journey together.

What has been your family experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you could even write us a guest blog.

Shine light in the darkness -Martinstag

Today we met with lots of other German families to celebrate St Martin’s day. (Martinstag) This is commonly celebrated by all in Germany whether they go to church or not.

Sankt Martin

We heard the story of St Martin.

Sendung mit der Maus

He choose to share what he had with a beggar. In that sharing of his cloak he gave the man warmth and comfort. He stopped what he was doing to make a difference for that one man and so is still remembered today for his kindness.

German children remember this by making lanterns and walking in the dark singing songs.

During the service the children were asked about people having difficulties who needed God’s light to shine on them. The children wanted to remember those without homes, Oma and Opa, those who were sick, soldiers and those in Paris.

Kerzen

After the service we went out with about other families to shine our lights into the darkness.

We sung

“Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne,und meine Laterne mit mir,
Da oben leuchten die Sterne und unter da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus ich gehe nach Haus
rabimmel, rabammel rabumm – bumbum!”

“Laterne, laterne, Sonne Mond und Sterne!
Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht!
Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne”

“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let shine, let it shine”

There were lots of home made lanterns from the very basic to intricate 3D foxes. We had some Oma sent with electric candles. We have used real candles before but they set on fire and had to be stamped out!!

We do this each year as a chance to meet with other German speaking families. It is a great visual reminder of how even a little light makes a difference in the darkness.

Do you celebrate Martinstag with your family?
How do you pass on your culture to your children?

Let us know in the comments below.

Ukrainian, Russian and English with Mykhalo and Anna

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Hnatyev Family

This week I have to pleasure of interviewing two friends of mine, Anna and Mykaylo about their language learning journey and speaking three languages at home.

Hi Mykhaylo and Anna. Could you tell me a little about your language learning journey?
Mykhaylo: I was born and brought up in Ukraine to Russian speaking parents. At home we spoke Russian and I went to a Russian school in the Ukraine. We were taught French and English in School but as I lived in a Soviet Country the furthest I expected to travel to was Poland so it was purely academic subject with little use outside of school.
Anna: I was born in Moldova to Russian speaking parents. I studied Romanian in school as an additional language I learned some English at school. I went to university in Romania and really found it difficult to understand what was happening. As I read for my assignments I would have a dictionary in my hand to look up what each word meant. I also studied German at university.

Do you think children can be introduced to languages from a young age?
Our Children spoke Ukrainian and Russian at home. Our elder son studied Helen Doren English at Nursery school. We were shocked when we heard nursery rhymes in the UK and we recognised them like Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.
As multilingual parents how do you keep three languages working at home, especially with your children attending an English school
Mykaylo: We are mostly focusing on Russian speaking at home Russian speaking television programmes online about travelling to other countries and reading books in Ukrainian to keep the language. He is concerned when going to the Ukraine he can’t speak to his friends. He may continue to learn Russian but to write Russian has lots of rules. He will need to do additional exercises to learn Russian properly or it will be a terrible mess. Many younger Ukrainians and speak Russian well but when I comes to writing it is a different thing.
Anna: Our youngest boy gets frustrated that people do not say his name correctly. He is starting nursery soon and we will send a list of Russian words he uses to help the teachers.

What are the cultural differences in the UK to the Ukraine?
In urban environment there is very little traditional singing. Babies are sung lullibies. We used to watch a short cartoon and hear a goodnight song on the state television. We have familiar famous short poems which are passed down generation to generation.
The school system in UK seems much more relaxed than it is in the Ukraine. It is a much more intense programme in the Ukraine with little time to play in school.

So you’re working in the UK now what do you do?
I am working in business development and client relationships management role in the UK representing a Ukrainian software development company ELEKS.com

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Languages

Heinzeurotunnel
I think (based on research by Manchester University) for very young children it is more important that they have fun with languages and start to recognise how different languages sound. This is how we learn to speak initially, and how children brought up bilingually learn. This sets them up for a lifetime of language learning. At Lingotastic we simply play, share stories, make and sing and pick up language along the way.

Having said that, teaching takes place in six week blocks so families have time to learn the songs and a few vocabulary words. September term starts in Spanish. In November we blast of France to learn some French. In January we blast off to Germany to learn a bit of German. I offer space for the bilingual parents to share ideas too, to encourage families in their language learning journey.

Come join us on this exciting language learning adventure.

Babi Bach the 1st FULLY bilingual album in English and Welsh

At Lingotastic we love family language learning. We also get very excited when we hear of people encouraging family language learning. This week we are really lucky to have an interview with the amazing Penni from Babi Bach. She’s an amazing mum who saw that there was a need for Welsh resources and set about meeting that need.

penni

Hi Penni, can you tell me a little about yourself and your family?
I am a wife to Andrew and Mummy to William (aged 5) and Martha (aged 3)
My husband is from Birmingham, England and when we first got married back in 2008 we initially settled in Birmingham. It was after the birth of our son that we decided we wanted to bring our family up by the sea. I am a Barry girl born and bred and so it was a very easy decision where to live!
I was lucky enough to be educated in Welsh medium schools right from nursery through my A Levels so have always enjoyed being bilingual and we decided that we would like our children to have the same gift. Both our little ones attend Welsh school and are doing really well.
When we initially returned to Barry I was really disappointed to find there were no bilingual classes for babies and pre-schoolers and so the idea for Babi Bach was born!
Babi Bach was started in September 2013 and has grown every term! We offer bilingual music classes for little ones and their families. It is an opportunity to introduce two languages to your little one from birth and also to help families who may wish to learn, or re-discover, Welsh with their child. It is a wonderful bonding experience.
I soon realised that there was a need for more bilingual resources in English and Welsh for families and so decided to make the 1st FULLY bilingual album in English and Welsh EVER! I raised part of the funds through the crowd funding platform Kickstarter and have well known Welsh artists lending their talents on the album. These include; Caryl Parry-Jones, Llinos Lee and former member of Only Men Aloud Hugh Strathern.

Babi Bach CD

How does your Album help family language learning?

The album has 12 very well known children’s nursery rhymes and songs which are all sung in both languages. Where necessary I have written or updated lyrics so that the English and Welsh versions are exactly the same to make it easier for learners to understand the songs.
It is a very well known fact that music aids memory and learning and so it is a great idea to use music to help your language learning.
The songs have been given a fresh sound with the arrangements by the super talented Darren Fellows. My experiences as a parent have taught me that if the music is of a high quality then you don’t mind quite so much when your little one asks you to repeat the CD for the 10th time that day! 😉 I have been told by parents that their children have been listening to the CD on repeat for ages – I can only hope the adults aren’t going completely crazy!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
If you’d like to find out more about us and out classes check out Babi Bach

The album is currently available for download through most major sites including Amazon
and Spotify. CDs can be ordered directly from myself (info@babibach.co.uk) and in some South Wales shops.
CDs will also be available shortly through Siop Mabon a Mabli online.

The Truth About Raising Bilingual Children

This week we have a guest post from Muriel Demarcus from www.frenchyummymummy.com about her experience and opinions on raising bilingual children. First published 10th May 2011. Over to you Muriel…

credit Knightsbridge-villiage.com

credit Knightsbridge-villiage.com

When friends see my daughters, they are amazed that they can speak English without any hint of a French accent, and reply to me in French as if it was completely natural to switch from one language to the other. I am obviously very proud of my children, but I can’t help thinking that:

It was, and still is hard work to make them speak French. My younger one especially has explained to me countless times that French is boring and, by the way, she can’t be bothered to learn to speak it. They go to British schools and are more British than French by now;

It is me whom my friends should be amazed at, as on top of a full time job and taxiing them to their various after-school activities, I try to teach the girls some French at least twice a week, and once a day when I am ready to put up a good, old-fashioned fight against them, which can happen after two weeks of taking vitamin supplements and usually doesn’t last very long anyway.

In short, it is not as glamorous as it looks. To make matters even worse, the selective nurseries will test your little darlings at age three and, if they are coming from a bilingual family, their English vocabulary will be narrower than “proper English kids” and usually this will be held against them. I also know some kids who started speaking very late because they were coming from bilingual or even trilingual families (parents who speak different languages and communicate in English). Everybody was worried that something was wrong with them, whereas they were just confused.

The truth is, there is no such thing as perfectly bilingual. I would say that English is my daughters’ primary language, and French will remain my primary language.
On top if this, French is awfully complicated. My daughters have a tendency to use the colloquial form if “you” (“tu”) with everybody, even with doctors or policemen. Most of the times it makes them laugh, but some were really offended. French can be really stuck-up, you see. (I would know, I am French.)

So, all in all, is it worth it? Of course it is, especially in the longer run. But not as much as I thought. You see, I have seen kids really messed up with this whole “bilingual” fashion, and they ended up having to undergo years of speech therapy and seemed very, very unhappy. My advice : Happiness prevails. Life is too short. If it’s too big a deal, stick to English.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Children are NOT confused by early second language learning

French market Today I went along to the French market in Chorleywood. The weather was good so a lot of other people went along too. We held hourly French taster classes and had a lot of people coming to join in. I was able to chat to a few families about their language learning journeys. A few were encouraged to start language learning at a young age which was a great result in my mind, whether their language learning includes Lingotastic or not.

We had a lot of fun making fish, singing and finding out what noise a Chamelion makes. A lot of parents were amazed at how quickly their little ones picked up some French.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?

I came across a few parents who were concerned that exposing their little ones to second language at a young age would confuse them. Here is my answer to this…
The best time to learn a second language is the same time as you learn the first. Bilingual families start two languages from birth. Even pre-verbal babies are able to recognise different languages, a recent Canadian study found.
In our family experience, when my son was still in my tummy, my hubby spoke to him only in German,
this meant when he was born, he only recognised his dad’s voice when he spoke in German.

A baby’s babbles sound the same, independent of the language spoken around them. From six months, the babble starts to become like the language sounds they hear regularly. So if babies are exposed to more than one language, the baby soon picks up both languages.

As far as language learning goes, the motto is, the younger the better. Birth to three years is the optimum time for introducing a second language. It is much easier for younger children to acquire languages. Bilingual families usually start at birth or before. In fact, if a child is learning two languages at a time, they will learn both at the same rate, without one language inhibiting the other.
Younger is also better with regards to children acquiring a native sounding accent; they are much more able to pick up an authentic accent if they hear a second language from a young age.

I’ve seen even the NHS, and so health visitors are promoting the value of early second language learning so I’m flabbergasted that these myths live on! The research about the best time to start second language learning is clear. Don’t let this myth make your child miss out!
What do you think?

We’re learning Portuguese with Eurotalk Junior Language Challenge

As a bilingual German and English family we think language learning is very important. My husband has studied, English, French, Latin, Spanish and Polish. I’ve studied French, German and Spanish. We’ve passed on some of these languages to our children by simply playing with languages. As you might have guessed we LOVE languages. You may have read about our Mandarin learning journey at the start of this year.

Well, now we’re learning Portuguese! My girls are taking part in the Euro talk Junior Language Challenge. The Junior Language Challenge involves children up to age 10 playing simple games in order to learn Portuguese. They do this with minimal adult involvement (which I like!). I’m often cooking in the room next door as they play, so I’ve picked up bit of Portuguese. I found it very interesting to hear Portuguese and how different it is to Spanish, but I’ve understood quite a lot because of the other Latin based languages I know.

JLC  blog1

I did not start to learn a second language until I was twelve so I’m sure they’ll surpass me in their language abilities as they get older! They other languages they are picking up mostly from home, so it’s great they can do this learning independent of us.

My girls are much better at Portuguese than me and I’ve been amazed on the occasions I’ve watched them playing the junior language challenge. They really like the silly game where you learn body parts to make your own Frankenstein monster and the telling the time game, as the man’s arm grows! They’re having a lot of fun playing and moving up the scoreboard.

frankenstein

They’ve been learning more than just Portuguese.
I heard my six-year-old reading very quickly in English last week. I did not know she could do this.
They’ve been learning National flags alongside the Portuguese names for those countries.
I asked my girls what they would like to say about the junior language challenge. My seven year old said “It’s a lot of fun” and the youngest said “I’m going to win! ”
If we get through to the next round we’ll be learning another language and in the third round yet another language. I’ll let you know how we get on.

JLC logo

It’s not too late to join the Junior Language Challenge.

Why sign up to the JLC?

  • It makes languages fun
  • It introduces children to new languages
  • It raises money for charity
  • There are some great prizes

It’s not too late to join the Junior Language Challenge, simply contact Eurotalk

Interview with Kristin Hellberg from Bilingual By Music

As a family we’ve found it difficult to find good language learning resources, so over on our
resources page. we’ve compiled lots that we’d recommend. These resources were created as individuals realised there was a need and that they were able and willing to meet that need. There are inspiring stories behind all of the resources and this time we hear the story of Kristin Hellberg, Founder of Bilingual By Music.

elibbm1

Hi Kirsten. Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?

I was born in Sweden but moved to London at age 19 to study Musical Theatre. I started working as a performer and appeared in various West End shows as well as doing voiceovers and TV. I went on to do a BSc in Psychology followed by a MSc in Business Psychology.

Both me and my husband are Swedish, so its very natural for us to have Swedish as the Family language at home. It’s also important to us that we can talk to our 3 kids in Swedish, since that is our ‘emotional’ language.

We live in London and the children go to English speaking schools, they are very much exposed to English every day. We try our best to “promote” Swedish and Sweden to them as much as possible. Its not always easy though. We often find that they speak English with each other when they play together on their own for example.

How does your product help family language learning?

I think music can be a fantastic tool in language learning. Music has rhythms, structures and rules just like languages. Language learning involving music can be a fun way of repeating words and understanding concepts. Its also a great way of remembering new words. The songs on our Swedish-English album are songs that are sung in both the UK and Sweden, so families already recognise the tunes. I think its lovely to point out the similarities between the countries and cultures. We are currently working on a Swedish-English Christmas album which should be ready in time for Christmas 2015. On a sunny day this week we went to record “Let it snow”!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?

I think its absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy reading about bilingualism and how it all works. There is so much interesting research that is being done as well and Twitter and Facebook is a great way of finding references and ideas.

Try to expose yourself and the children to the minority language as much as you can. Read books, listen to music and songs, watch films, use playful apps. Also try to embrace the culture, which for Swedes would include Midsummer, Lucia playing traditional games such as ‘Bro Bro Breja’ and enjoy the Swedish food traditions such as Semlor, våfflor, leverpastej etc.

Bilingual by music kids song swedish and english illustrated by asa wikman 2 © asa wikman

If you fancy learning some Swedish or Danish, Kristin at Bilingual By Music has produced some gorgeous bilingual CDs with familiar songs. You’ll be singing along in no time… I’ve a few Swedish speaking mummies who rave over these CDs. They’re also available on ITunes, Spotify and Amazon.

Website: www.bilingualbymusic.com

FB: www.facebook.com/bilingualbymusic

twitter: @bilingualbymu

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